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Archive for September, 2011

Bedruthan Steps. Charlie don’t surf, but we can at least walk

September 26, 2011 Leave a comment

Let the train take the strain

There’s a magic moment as the First Great Western train leaves Exeter when you finally know that you’ve quit London. Suddenly the monotonous banks of earth and fields of green give way onto what seems like an endless expanse of water. The wet sand is reflecting a late September sun and small boats lean drunkenly in all directions, patiently waiting the return of the tide to float them back to sober and dignified bobbing.

It’s enough to make even the most tired and jaded Londoner perk up and look forward to the upcoming weekend break. With no car to worry about the only pressure is getting through the wodge of Saturday papers sprawled across the table. Our destination, Bedruthan Steps is 200 or so miles away and it’s good to let someone else do the driving for once. Read more…

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Categories: Food and Travel

Classic Vegetarian Cookery: Arto der Haroutanian

September 18, 2011 Leave a comment

Bean there, done that

Like many people my flirtation with vegetarianism ended with the waft of a bacon roll. Working in advertising I was frequently on film sets at ‘sparrow fart’, as times before dawn were called, and when you’re hungry, cold and hungover a bacon butty is irresistible.

There was also the dawning realisation that the girlfriend, who was the real veggie, was frying everything in order to make it tasty and I was ballooning in weight. This was the 1980s you understand, we knew more about Rick Astley than we did about eating a wholesome diet.

It was clear though even then that the tastiest vegetarian meals came from the East or Middle East. Those cultures had long traditions of eating vegetables as something more than a boring side dish and could do things to them that made them stars in their own right.

Classic Vegetarian Cookery has been unavailable for almost 20 years, the author Arto der Haroutanian can now be seen to have been ahead of his time. An Armenian by birth he was brought up from the age of 12 in the North West of England and was a painter of international distinction, as well as the owner of a chain of hotels and restaurants where Armenian cookery featured. Read more…

Dawn of the Dead. Westfield Stratford City opening day

September 14, 2011 Leave a comment

The recession is over?

It’s a bit eerie at Westfield Stratford, thousands of people all walking in the same direction and with the same expression on their face. ‘Day of the dead,’ says M glumly as we watch from behind the safety of our security barrier, He’s right the resemblance to zombies is undeniable, although to be fair most zombies wouldn’t be seen undead in a shell suit and many have better complexions.

It’s opening day at Westfield Stratford City.  Some pedants have argued a city has to have a cathedral and Stratford doesn’t but they are missing the point, it does have a cathedral or at least a large temple of worship and it’s this new shopping centre.

The faithful have turned up in massive numbers, are they all skipping work or are they all unemployed? If the latter how will they afford to shop here? Questions unanswered when Boris Johnson clambers shabbily to his feet to deliver a characteristically up beat and witty opening speech. His jokes about Chaucer may go over a few people’s heads but at least he doesn’t patronise the crowd with jargon-filled rubbish the way Ken would have done. Read more…